Last minute scramble for talent

And then there were two. Stud safety prospect Joe Rippe of Carmel (Ind.) High has narrowed his choices down to Army and Air Force. Rippe, who is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, visited West Point last weekend. He is headed to Colorado Springs this weekend.

Then Rippe, who helped Carmel to three straight appearances in the Class 5A state championship, will make his decision. He spoke glowingly of his visit to Army.

"I loved it. It was cool," Rippe said. "I even got to talk to the superintendent (Franklin L. Hagenbeck). He told me how much support we will be getting down there."

Rippe, a 5A first team all-state selection, is also excited about visiting Air Force. He said, as of now, he isn't leaning either way. You would think with Air Force playing well under Troy Calhoun, and the Black Knights struggling, that the Falcons would have the inside track on the hard hitter.

Rippe, who also received some attention from Purdue, said that's not the case.

"I think it's great that Army got a new coach (Rich Ellerson)," Rippe said. "I remember out program (Carmel) wasn't doing well and we turned it around and made it to three straight state championships. Being a part of a turnaround would be something special."

Wherever Rippe lands, on the banks of the Hudson, or in the mountains, the winning team gets a solid player. Rippe is a solid defensive player. He has size and towers over the secondary. The scouting reports say Rippe has limited speed, but he is one of the most fundamental safeties in the 2009 class.

"I just like to get to the ball fast and lay a lick on someone," Rippe said..

Rippe would be an excellent addition to a 2009 Army recruiting class that looks pretty good. The Black Knights received some good news on signing day when it was revealed that wide receiver Brian Austin of North Allegheny (Pa.) High has chosen Army over Navy. He caught 65 catches for 9 touchdowns as a senior at North Allegheny and is the Regional Champion in the 100 meter dash. Austin has been clocked at 4.38 in the 40 yard dash.

Ellerson likes to pass a little, even though he runs a triple option, and Austin looks like a good slot back/wide receiver type. Austin's coach at North Alleghany, Art Walker, told armysports.com: "His speed is his greatest asset and makes him extremely dangerous against opposing defenses."

Army doesn't release its football recruiting class until Reception Day — freshmen cadets' first day on campus. But the Black Knights, 3-9 last season, do have some strong players coming in. The list includes wide receiver Scotty Williams (5-10, 178) of Lutheran (Calif.) High, running back Jeremiah McKibbins (5-8, 175) of Carmelite (Calif.) High and defensive end Juilus Warmsley (6-3, 225).

Let's hope these recruits help turn Army into a winner again.


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